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Sep 28, 2012 10:40 PM

The new rice guidelines

My husband loves white rice, and usually eats it several times a week. After the recent warnings about arsenic, I was concerned and I decided to try cooking rice the way that the FDA is recommending, one cup of washed rice to six cups of water. First, I tried using our trusty rice cooker, and essentially I didn't keep a close enough eye on the time and I ended up with jook. (Luckily I pickled some bok choy earlier this week, so we'll have that for breakfast tomorrow.) Then I tried again on the stove, simmering it for exactly 20 minutes. That came out a little better, but the texture is still not great. More minute rice than jasmine.

So my husband, (who thinks that the whole thing is kind of overblown anyway) thinks we should just go back to washing it and using the rice cooker with the old ratio. I'm willing to do that, but I am still concerned about the arsenic. So I wanted to see what my favorite bunch of online cooks is doing about this whole thing. (I don't post here much but I read a lot and this is the first place that I come when I have a food related question.) Are you making any changes to your rice consumption and/or preparation? My daughter and I used to eat a lot of brown rice but, since the arsenic levels in brown rice are much higher than in white, we've given it up. I'd appreciate your opinions.

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  1. No change, but I'm 70.

    1. Hi there, do you have a link to the cooking guidelines? I haven't seen those anywhere.

      Truth is, we've never eaten a lot of rice at home and I actually purged my home of nearly all rice products about a year ago because of the buzz then about arsenic in rice products for infants. Since we have a young child, we're probably just going to continue cooking with other whole grains.

      I do eat rice when I dine out at Asian restaurant and will probably continue to do so in moderation, though I still might avoid feeding rice to my child. And although I normally lean towards brown rice and wild rice (not really a rice, but a grain), I'll probably lean back towards white rice.

      No apple or pear juice at my house either, by the way.


        1. For what it's worth, Dr. Oz says the nutritional benefits of brown rice vs. white rice outweigh the higher arsenic level. The more water you cook either in, the better. I have just recently been using the "pasta" method for cooking my standard rice, which is brown jasmine. I started this before the recent arsenic reports and I like the texture when it is made this way. I just boil it for 25-30 minutes, then pour it through a strainer and return it to the hot pot, cover it, and let it sit off-heat for another 10-15 minutes to absorb the remaining moisture. Separate, fluffy grains.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            More water is better because of the arsenic? or for other reasons?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              From the Consumer Reports study:
              "Change the way you cook rice. You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of rice's nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice's inorganic arsenic content."

          2. I eat jasmine rice from Thailand about 1x a week. Not really concerned. Brown rice and rice grown in the SE seem to have the highest concentrations.

            2 Replies
            1. re: emily

              Rice grown in current or past cotton-growing areas has far and away the highest arsenic content because of the Paris green - an arsenic insecticide - used to control boll weevils. So Rice from the Gulf states should be off everyone's list. If you stick with California rice you'll be okay, according to the CR piece I read. I guess I'll ditch the rest of my Texmati …

              I do think I'll try the "pasta" method, too.

              1. re: emily

                According to what I read - Thai rice (and Indian rice) generally contain the least amount of arsenic. Not sure about the rest of SE Asia. I eat Thai Jasmine rice or Thai Glutinous (Sticky) Rice at least 2x per day - sometimes directly from a friends farm :o As far as reading about people saying washing the rice is a good idea..... when was it not a good idea! Washing rice use to be necessary, now it is just recommended because if you wash (Jasmine) rice (rubbing the starch off the rice not just swirling water around) it helps the outcome of the cooked rice.

                Addendum: Ah - now realize misread SE to be SE Asia..... SE America (Gulf area) was what the abbreviation was referring to..... :p Yes SE Asia much better!